Musicians are strange creatures, cursed with melodies spinning around in their heads constantly. It's hard to recognize what words are brilliant lyrics, or just fleeting thoughts. The mind of a musician is a jumbled mess, with little bits and pieces of melodies and broken love songs constantly dragging behind them.
My newest effort premieres at the end of this post! So stay tuned if you want to learn how to write music, and where these tips can get you.
This card was inspired by @buddyesd and our conversations about music and songwriting over the past few days.
1. The first step is to know your music!
Videos: Some of my favorites.
I've been a musician my whole life. I started singing in my terrible two's and ended up getting a guitar at age 11 and starting my first rock band at 12. My life has always centered on what band I was obsessed with at the time. It all started with Green Day...
Then the Ramones...
Then My Chemical Romance...
Thirty Seconds To Mars...
The Sex Pistols...
Neil Young, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Pete Doherty and on and on.
And so on and so fourth. The point I'm trying to make here, is that you have to go through a lot of music to gain the inspiration and the fortitude to start making your own. Influences are a huge part of songwriting. They help you form what kind of identity you want as an artist.
2. Know that the perfect song won't come overnight. Your development takes time!
(Video 1: One of the first songs I ever wrote (2009) "The Way You Talk" / tried and true pop-punk)
(Video 2: A later rock song, 2014 "Tourist" a little more sophisticated, deeper lyrics, more passion, messy garage-rock feel)
I didn't wake up and just know how to play the guitar and write songs, it took time. I sat in my room for hours on end, plucking away, humming, writing down and recording things and ultimately a lot of the stuff I wrote early on was complete shit. It just now, feels like I'm writing really meaningful stuff. So, just give yourself some time, and know that every musician goes through an evolution at every level.
I started out writing simple, three chord punk songs in the vein of Green Day, my favorite band.
That slowly evolved into more anthemic and stadium-like tunes when I started getting into bands like The Rolling Stones, U2 and so fourth...
Now I've evolved into this heart-wrenching raw, indie influenced folk-y sound that is directly linked to my love for Pete Doherty's solo album Grace / Wastelands, a collection of melancholy tracks dedicated to love and confusion.
My new song, Counselor (heard here), is a haunting acoustic ballad influenced by more singer / songwriter acts since I'm solo right now. So things have to evolve with the times.
3. Do some research.
You have to know where you came from in order to know where you can go. This being said, every musician's routine is different. I just like to pick up my guitar, start strumming a few chords and a melody or lyric will come, and I'll go from there.
Some people sit at a keyboard and bang out a melody, Others just jam and find a chord progression they like, to start with and build a melody on top of it.
If you're not that experienced, you have to do some research. Look up the greats: Lennon and McCartney, Richards and Jagger. The classics are a great way to look at song structure. Then, look up your favorite artist's songwriting routines and experiment with them, mix and match styles until you feel like you can get somewhere.
Like the lead singer of Green Day, Billie Joe Armstrong writes his melodies first, lyrics later.
Both come at once for me, melody and lyric, almost always. So it just depends on how your brain works, and you won't know until you try.
4. JUST GO FOR IT!!!
Music isn't perfect and most of the time it isn't beautiful or polished. So if you want to start creating your own, just start doing it. Hum melodies, listen to your favorite artists, pick up an instrument and do it! If you have the passion and you want to learn, anything is possible. I'm here to help too, if you have any questions or thoughts.
Do not be afraid, because you could write the next number one single in your bedroom...you never know ;)!
My newest song, written and recorded on August 12th, 2015 is up on Sound Cloud now, here's the link if you're interested. See! Songwriting isn't hard! ;)